Tips for Navigating the Legal System

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Whether you’ve been charged with a crime or you’re involved in a lawsuit, the legal system is supposed to exist to preserve your rights. At the same time, the legal process is complex, and without being proactive, your concerns could easily be overlooked, with serious consequences. If you need to navigate the legal system, take action to protect yourself.

Know the Process

First, learn the legal processes that pertain to your issue. Criminal law and civil law often use the same courts and judges, but the processes can differ greatly. Juvenile courts, which covers minors, and family courts, used for divorce and child custody cases, have their own procedures.

Processes can also differ by state or jurisdiction. Do as much research as you can to understand how your case is going to proceed and what your rights and options are. The better informed you are, the more likely you can succeed in your goals.

Get an Attorney

Don’t wait—get an attorney immediately, especially if you have been charged with a crime or a lawsuit has been filed against you. An attorney can help you mount a strong defense against the charges against you. Be open and honest with your attorney about all details of the case.

Select an attorney who is experienced in the type of legal issue you are dealing with. Most have certain areas they specialize in. After your first interview, if the attorney doesn’t seem like a good fit for you, don’t be afraid to make a change.

Remain Silent

Remaining silent doesn’t just apply to the moment of an arrest. Whatever the legal issue might be, you could complicate the situation if you talk about it to other people. It’s not just about the police—anyone you know could potentially be called as a witness.

While you may be angry, upset, or anxious, avoid posting on social media and ask your friends to also refrain from posting anything. Social media posts can be used as evidence. As much as you’d like to defend yourself publicly, the outcome of your case depends on your silence.

Your best approach to navigating the legal system is to stay calm and take intelligent action. Become informed, consult your attorney, and let the legal process take place without public drama. The more you know and understand, the more effective you can be in your case.

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